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An electrolaser is a type of electroshock weapon which is also a directed-energy weapon. It uses lasers to form an electrically conductive Laser-Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC). A fraction of a second later, a powerful electric current is sent down this plasma channel and delivered to the target, thus functioning overall as a large-scale, high energy, long-distance version of the Taser electroshock gun.

Alternating current is sent through a series of step-up transformers, increasing the voltage and decreasing the current. The final voltage may be between 108 and 109 volts. This current is fed into the laser beam.

Laser-Induced Plasma Channel

A Laser-Induced Plasma Channel (LIPC) is formed by the following process:

  • A laser (possibly a laser diode) emits a laser beam into the air.
  • The laser beam causes blooming, which is the temporary change of state of component(s) of the atmosphere (like oxygen) to ionize into a plasma.
  • The plasma forms an electrically conductive plasma channel.

Because a Laser-Induced Plasma Channel relies on the atmospheric blooming effect, there must be air or some other gas between the electrolaser weapon and the target: it will not work in space vacuum; but in space this lack of blooming lets laser beam travel uninhibited and act as a weapon if powerful enough.


Methods of use:

  • To kill or incapacitate a human target through electrocution.
  • To seriously damage, disable, or destroy any electric or electronic devices in the target.
  • As electrolasers and natural lightning both use plasma channels to conduct electric current, an electrolaser can set up a light-induced plasma channel for uses such as:
    • To study lightning
    • During a thunderstorm, to make lightning discharge at a safe time and place, as with a lightning conductor.
    • As a weapon, to make a thunderhead deliver a precise and plausibly deniable lightning strike onto a target from an aircraft; in this case, the aircraft and laser function something as the base in a transistor, creating a path for a large amount of energy with a very minor amount of initial input.

Because of the plasma channel, an electrolaser may cause an accident if there is a thunderstorm (or other electricity sources such as overhead powerlines) about.

The only defenses against electron particle beam weapons are magnetic fields, electrical insulators, capacitors, electrostatic fields, and Faraday cages.

See Electroshock gun for more information (principles of operation, controversies, etc).

Examples of electrolasers


Publicly traded company Ionatron develops directed-energy weapons for the United States Military The company has produced a device called the Joint IED Neutralizer (JIN) which may presently be undergoing field testing in Iraq[1]. The JIN is intended for safely detonating IEDs or improvised explosive devices. Future designs include weapons mounted on land and air and sea vehicles and as a hand-held infantry version.

Ionatron said that the weapons will be able to be used as a non-lethal alternative to current weaponry, but will be able to deliver a high enough voltage jolt to kill.


There was an unconfirmed report that in 1985 the U.S. Navy tested an electrolaser.[citation needed] Its targets were missiles and aircraft. This device was known as the Phoenix project within the Strategic Defense Initiative research program. It was first proved by experiment at long range in 1985. But this report may have referred to an early test of MIRACL, which is or was a high-powered chemical laser.[citation needed]

Peter Anthony Schlesinger's project

See this link for USA experiments with what was probably an electrolaser.[citation needed] Anthony's company is HSV Technologies... at a now defunct website ... see, also: WIRED news article


The new project StunStrike is probably an electrolaser.[citation needed]

Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems

Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems in Anderson, Indiana is developing a series of rifle-sized and artillery-sized electrolasers for the U.S. Marines. See XADS.

HSV Technologies

HSV Technologies of San Diego, California are designing a non-lethal device which was profiled in the 2002 TIME magazine article “Beyond the Rubber Bullet”. It is an electrolaser using ultraviolet laser beams, and promises to immobilize living targets at a distance without contact. There is plan for an engine-disabling variation for use against the electronic ignitions of cars.

In fiction

Electrolasers, or unnamed effects that could be explained as electrolasers, often occur in science fiction and videogames, such as:

  • The Volt Auto Rifle in Command & Conquer: Renegade
  • The Lightning Gun in Unreal Tournament 2004
  • The Lightning Gun in Quake
  • The Arc Welder (an alien work tool used as a weapon [1]) in Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force
  • The Arc Charger in Resistance: Fall of Man
  • The Electron Mace in Syndicate Wars
  • The Steve Jackson Games role-playing game GURPS has sourcebooks ("Space" and "Ultra-Tech") that have listed Electrolasers as hand weapons since at least 1988. They even work the same way.
  • In the Cobra novels by Timothy Zahn electrolasers are used as hand weapons.
  • In The Mightiest Machine (1935) series by John W. Campbell, Jr. the Transpon Beam is similar in concept to the electrolaser.
  • The "PIG" plasma cannon from the Alien series uses a device quite similar to the electrolaser to create the necessary magnetic containment bottle.
  • The Lightning Gun in the Unreal Tournament 2004 Ballistic Weapons V2.1 Mod.
    • See raygun.


Laser-triggered lightning:


Other forms:

  • as a corridor or passageway denial system
  • Ionatron
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Electrolaser". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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